Leading Srticle: Lord Birt Should Be Forced to Explain Himself to MPs
THE MOCKERY of John Birt could be a turning point for Tony Blair. The appointment of the unrespected former director-general of the BBC as an adviser to the Prime Minister on crime 18 months ago was simply baffling. But his translation to adviser on long-term transport policy, attached to the new Forward Strategy Unit at Downing Street charged with "blue skies thinking", has provoked that most dangerous response for any government: derision.
Such is the low esteem in which Lord Birt of Liverpool is widely held that even Cabinet ministers feel free to have a pop at him. Thus Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Transport, when asked by the Transport Select Committee why "this fellow" was wandering all over his departmental territory, replied: "It keeps him occupied."
All the more reason, therefore, for Lord Birt to come to the same committee of MPs to explain what he does and why it helps to improve policy-making. But no. Lord Birt is a special adviser whose advice to the Prime Minister is "private".
Another unfortunate Cabinet minister, Robin Cook, was pushed unwillingly to the microphone yesterday to explain that it would be "much …
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Publication information: Article title: Leading Srticle: Lord Birt Should Be Forced to Explain Himself to MPs. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: February 2, 2002. Page number: 3. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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